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Initially: Little Comfort Is Given

Skilled Bible study - searching for truths - is fit for losing the Christian faith. Dr. Bart D. Ehrman shows it neatly in his way. He started out as an evangelical fundamentalist, and today maintains he has become agnostic. After this warning - below are things that one may find through cultivated study of the Bible. The book references further down supplies meat (considerations and more evidence) to the bony cues that come next:

  • There have been different views on the origin of one Jewish healer, curser, exorcist. Jesus was first told of as a healer, prophet and executed guy. Later generations would like him to be known as "one with God" and so on, by additions to the gospels by church people who thought they were served by that.

    Bart Ehrman holds that Jesus can be best understood as someone who believed the world would end dramatically within the lifetime of his apostles and that a new kingdom would be created on earth. It did not happen. How to deal with false prophets is shown in the Old Testament.

    A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say . . . must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22)". "False prophets . . . will become fools. (Jeremiah 50:36)" "My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. . . . I am the Sovereign Lord. (Ezek 13:9)". [Emphasises added]

    And sadly, apart from speaking of and dating end of time quite in vain, Jesus vouched for the complete Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17-21) and said: "Watch out for false prophets . . . By their fruit you will recognise them. . . . Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:15-20, passim)". Jesus really was "cut down", that is, executed, but that was not the end of it, gospels and Acts tell.

    Jesus is defined as a false prophet in that he prophesied the end of time during the lifetime of his disciples, but it did not come. A false prophet's prophesy is not confirmed (!). What to do, in addition to getting rid of him for good and not fearing him, as the Old Testament's Law says? Ehrman discusses the apocalyptic teachings of Jesus, but has another focus than the Law-teachings that Jesus vouched for completely. The Law of Jews and his own teachings and doings would have him executed (Matthew 5:17-19), and that Law would have Mary, his mother stoned to death with Foetus Jesus in her belly if it had been found out she had got pregnant without being married. Accordingly, Jesus, that time and Bible study has proved one more false prophet, would have lost his right to be born and live -

    If . . . evidence of the young woman's virginity is not found, they shall bring the young woman to the entrance of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death." (Deuteronomy 22:20)

    If a virgin is engaged to a man, and another man happens to meet her in the city and lies down with her, you should bring them both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the girl because she did not scream . . . (Deuteronomy 22:23,24)

    Those are tough biddings. See how far they have been followed - There is more to be told too.

  • What the real teachings of Jesus were, seems unclear. He wrote nothing that is recorded, and sayings attributed to him in the four, later-edited gospels differ. Besides there are yet other sayings attibuted to him in about twenty other old gospels that were not included in the Bible. So it is not completely sure what he taught, and that the teachings attributed to him in the Bible are all he taught. They are probably not. Take into account John 21-25; the later-edited gospels; and all the lacunas (missing parts) in other, excavated gospels where Jesus allegedly speaks.

  • The teachings attributed to Jesus are severe and not really humane, of the "go and molest thyself" type, "give way to bullies" and "accept slavery of the Law" - [More] What's the fuss about following Jesus who insisted his mission was for Jews only?

  • "My teachings are for unsound Jews only," Jesus says in effect: In Matthew, the living Jesus tells and instructs that his teachings and ministry are for Jews only, and gives strict orders not to spread them to non-Jews. His teachings and kingdom are reserved for Jews only, finds Geza Vermes (2011). Jesus also says he was to herd only sick persons, and that healthy ones would not need him at all (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12:12; Luke 5:31-32; John 10:2-6). To remain in good total health (cf. holistic medicine) has many other benefits as long as:

  • Jesus in the gospels have a lot of psychopath characteristics, more than enough of them for a present-day multi-psychopath. [Mental disorder analysis]

  • Misleading followers, making martyrs of millions of them. The apocalyptic foretellings of Jesus and gospels made followers believe that the end of the ancient world would come very soon, before the apostles of Jesus had passed away. Beware of the scenarios that make people embrace non-defence (turning the other cheek on the word of Jesus, etc.) while hoping for heavenly rewards.

  • The four gospels and Acts of the Bible, with their later additions and spurious passages, were subjected to editing, but all the same they contain different versions of many happenings. For example, in one gospel we are told that Judas Iscariot hanged himself (Matthew 27:5), whereas in Acts he fell headlong and burst open in the middle of a field and all his bowels gushed out (Acts 1:18). Adding to the grossly conflicting scenarious, there is a newly found Gospel of Judas Iscariot, in which Judas is presented in a better light it might be good to be aware of in its setting: the early church before the versions of tales and people were all settled.

  • Other teachings of Jesus in his allegories show false ideas of good gardening and acriculture methods. An able farmer or gardener cannot afford to be callous when it comes to losing crops to weeds, ignorant of the size of mustard seeds as compared with other seeds, and how tall mustard plants get, for example. He cannot start to curse trees to make them wither for not bearing fruits out of season either. (Cf. Mark 11:12–14 and 11:20–25; Matthew 21:18–22; WP "Cursing the fig tree"; "Breba"). [Mustard and Jesus]

  • In the canonised texts that make up the Bible(s), much is left out in the life of Jesus. Moreover, what was included may be grossly misleading, such as the Nativity Tales (the first two chapters of Matthew). The Bible scholar Geza Vermes find the birth tale of Jesus is another added, fabricated story in step with Jewish folklore then [More]. Also, there are about eighteen years that are not told of in the Bible. The years that are missing in the Bible's accounts of him, have caused ample space for vagaries, false claims and gross speculation. False claims are found when the versions completely disagree with one another, as they cannot all be true. [More]

  • The faith of the early church diversified. The sects of Judaism - for example the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes had different views of what happened after death. Saddusees and Essenes taught there would be no resurrection of the flesh. St Paul, a converted Pharisee, in the New Testament taught the Pharisean belief that long dead and rotten corpses would get out of their graves, even much later. What will happen when there is not a particle of dust left of the desert-buried corpse after many centuries, is not made clear. As for drowned sailors - many hundreds of thousands of them - how can they rise after fish has "gnawed on their bones" in the deep? The flesh-rising belief became dominant within early Christianity all the same, even though the idea of resurrection of the flesh was rejected in gnostic teachings, that instead continued Paul's insistence that flesh and bones has no place in heaven (!). But most Christian churches today continue to uphold the belief that there will be a final Resurrection of the Dead and World to Come - So there were divergent opinions or beliefs regarding resurrection - how it is understood, both before and after the death of Jesus, and how far out it will be. At any rate, there are somewhat cryptical words attributed to Jesus on it in three gospels. (See WP "Resurrection"; "Saddusees"; Matthew 22:29-32; Luke 14:14; John 5:24-29)

  • Forming articles of faith and various decrees and credos that have little to do with the oldest manuscripts of the gospels. Dr Ehrman covers this too.

  • Baptising infants who cannot confess faith in Jesus (called christening), and indoctrinating many dogmatically through compulsory schooling and at home too. Baptism in the early church was different. Only persons who could talk and confess faith in Jesus were baptised. Underage children should not be used or abused by tying them beyond their power to talk, disagree or accept any yoke on them, at least. Why was Jesus himself baptised at the age of 30? He showed his "No to pedobaptism" well in advance of an odd practice without any professed faith, - and credobaptism (baptism by a professed faith) is suspect enough too, in the light of how the much later Articles of Faith came about by agreements after controversies. Be that as it may, most Christians belong to denominations that practice infant baptism. No one should be baptised when underage. (WP "Infant baptism")

  • Taking over rigmarole, themes and equipment from other religions in the Roman Empire to impress shows little class, and sleek goings too [More].

  • Selling short the early teachings of pacifism - in order to dominate: In return for the church getting accepted and rising in the Roman Empire, the bishops agreed that Christians went to war for the Empire against "turn the other cheek" and many other self-esteem annihilating teachings in Matthew 5.

  • Later outgrowths, such as vehement brutalisation, with the Great Inquisition, religious wars en masse, and the hindering the growth of science (with its rational handling) by menial indoctrination, torture and death.

  • A world-wide religion built on sand: Jesus said his teachings, kingdom, salvation and healing ministry are for Jews only. They almost totally rejected him. Maybe they did not like to be defined as ill sheep. After apocalysis did not come as expected, the doctrines of the grown early church were fit to the growing clergy, and the spurious Missionary Commands in Matthew and Mark were added - they are much later-added material, and so "out of character" as comparted to the earlier gospels that the outreach to heathens is founded on forged passages. (Vermes 2012)

False beliefs amount to affect your life, in part through traditions and customs, in part through goings that serve robber bullies. Although there is much evidence of such things and others, though some who call themselves Christians without being Jews are unaware of them. Thanks to Bible scholars, many false teachings stand revealed. The books by Dr Bart D. Ehrman are widely read, so there are quite a lot of them in the list below.

Most of the book references are annotated. Many of these books are by Dr Bart D. Ehrman, but there are many others that can be listed along with them too, many more than those who are there. First comes a terse presentation of Dr Ehrman and a few of his views.

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Solid Bart Ehrman Views

Bart D. Ehrman 2012. Modified section of photo approved by Bart D. Ehrman. Source: WikiCommons

Big shot. Scrutiny Professor Bart D. Ehrman (1955 –) is a leading American New Testament authority. His work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of early Christianity. He has written or edited thirty books, including five New York Times bestsellers. Four of them are listed below. They are How Jesus Became God, Misquoting Jesus) Jesus Interrupted and Forged. Ehrman has written widely at both an academic and popular level. As yet (2016) he has been translated into twenty-seven languages. Works by Dr Ehrman have been featured in major US newspapers and magasines - including Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post and New York Times -, and Ehrman has also appeared in programs in TV channels like CNN and BBC. He speaks extensively and has appeared on American TV shows to draw attention to some of his books.

Much Bible study and resulting achievements. Ehrman was a gifted Christian fundamentalist student who discovered contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts during his graduate studies, and fifteen years later settled in the stand "I don't know if God exists or not" - which may serve as a very good basis for study. Ehrman has also got teaching awards and a prize for scholarly achievement.<

Remembered

Much in your life may depend on how you manage to tackle strong impressions that others find fit to yoke you with.

Consider this: "The historical Jesus did not make history; the remembered Jesus did." - Bart D. Ehrman, in Jesus before the Gospels, which is an attempt to ascertain by roundabout ways how accurate the four canonised gospels might be. The root problem is that Dr Ehrman applies theories to "thin air", that is, he handles speculation about presumed but unchecked oral transmissions. On that basis he uses four later-written gospels as evidence that oral tales were forerunners of them, but has no basic sources how such came about, and just how they were.

By drawing in various theories in psychology, sociology and anthropology, Ehrman tries to explain how tales grow bigger and more impressive in certain circles through faulty transmissions for decades or more. For the lack of written sources, tales may get distorted, disfigured, exaggerated and more fantastic. Some myths are derived from such processes. Dr Philip Yampolsky (1967:2-10) shows how stories are developed and changed when they are retold for decades or centuries, reflecting a desire for "good stories" - and such stories also included stories to feel good about. The unanswered question is how far mythmaking mechanisms have been were at work and leading up to written, edited gospels and other gospels in the first church. For the lack of good evidence it is wise to reserve one's judgement.

Gospel parts are results of myth-making processes, but rooted in a historical person - a healer, curser, Law-sustainer and false prophet for Jews only, he said himself. Thus, the big thing among early Christians was not accurate transmission of what had really happened and been taught for Jews only, but "good stories" - for comfort and childlike indoctrination in the church too.

Bart Ehrman suggests how most Christians today base their faith and parts of their lives on unsubstantiated assumptions about the reliability of the Gospels. However, luckily for Jesuans, they do not trust all gospel words completely, unless they sell all they have, accept slavery, let their soldiers turn the other cheek, and become Jewish. In short, Jesuans have to be Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-10). This also indicates there can be hope for many who feel bad about calling Jesus "Lord, Lord" without doing things he says, for his teachings were for Jews only, and Christianity got a gentler deal, says the Apostolic Deal for non-Jews with its four requirements only (Acts 15; 21:25), So a knowing, non-Jewish Christian can keep his cars, yacht, and much else, and be on guard, taking thought for tomorrow too - and disregard the "molest thyself" commands for Jews only, and escape any blunt "Away from me, Lord-calling hypocrite" after death. By sticking to the basics for non-Jew Christians, which all the apostles and the Spirit agreed on, all should be as well as in the very first church, if not better, thought modern standards of living. Ehrman considers how memory works, and tells that the act of telling and retelling impacts the story that is produced and shaped; that more than forty years after Jesus had been executed, oral accounts were put down in writing. The authors might have heard about Jesus from others, who might have had heard something from yet others. Stories of Jesus that came to be incorporated into the four canonical gospels might as well have been shaped by the needs of the "crews" or communities that the story tellers came from. So early Christians could well have distorted and invented content that does not actually go back to the historical Jesus.

Ehrman writes that the disciples of Jesus did not write the Gospels. They were uneducated people who spoke Aramaic, while the Gospels were written by Christians forty to sixty years later, after being in circulation for decades among several sorts of people, and not all of these were eyewitnesses of anything they told of. Ehrman also discusses the types of Jesus stories: healing stories among others. Some early writings were deemed heretical and others were accepted as true gospel, serving the church - but stories we should not take at face value anyhow. Why? "We know in fact that they were changed, because we can compare different accounts of the same words or activities of Jesus and find discrepancies. Yet other accounts are historically implausible, and so appear to have been created in the years of transmission when people recounted and changed what they had heard about the life of a healer they "turned into God" too. It looks like "common myth-making" was at work, resulting in a faith that is far from the oldest sources.

Much in the book is repeated from earlier Ehrman works.

Contents


Bart D. Ehrman view and reviews, Literature  

Burkett, Delbert, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Jesus. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ Here is an accessible collection of varied essays that seek to show how Jesus has been imagined or portrayed from the beginnings of Christianity to the present day: portrayals of Jesus in the New Testament, in non-Christian religions, in other perspectives, in recent art, and further. Thirty-two authors summarise scholarly knowledge about the figure of Jesus.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica Online or as a yearly DVD suite. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015.

Ehrman, Bart D. Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ Ehrman posits that some New Testament books are literary forgeries and shows how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers - and how it also was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit.
    It stands out that many of the books of the New Testament are deliberate forgeries, or contain such passages on nearly every page, for writing in someone else's name was common practice in ancient times, but even then considered unacceptable. Ehrman shows which books in the New Testament were forged by others than disiples of Jesus. The old forgery scandals have caused problems to biblical scholars and devout believers in Bible sayings. Evangelical Christians need to to face that people who allegedly had been given the Spirit of Truth, were authors of widespread forgery and deceptions, and go on to sort out the least inappropriate passages of the current New Testament.

⸻. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ "Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature is the degree to which it was forged," writes Ehrman. By way of example, the Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip, and letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament are forgeries. Here is a comprehensive, scholarly and very well documented study of early Christian forgeries - that is, writings by literary deceit. There was much of it in the Church. Ehrman also talks of what criteria ancient critics used to expose forgeries and how forgers sought to avoid being found out. Ehrman also exposes how various Christian authors forged documents in order to lend their ideas a veneer of authority in disputes over doctrine and practice. "Counter-forgery" was a swindling way that was resorted to in order to forgery. As it is, nearly half of the books in the New Testament make false authorial claims: the Gospel of Mark was not written by Mark, and so on. Once again, the idea that deceivers who produced early Christian writings expressed the Spirit of Truth, is preposterous. Deceit is immoral.

⸻. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014. ⍽▢⍽ According to Ehrman, Jesus neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God, although he came to be thought of as the incarnation of God himself.
    The idea that Jesus was divine, came to become a dogma in the first few centuries of the early church. But the original disciples of Jesus during his lifetime did not profess that, and it is nothing that Jesus claimed about himself either. So those who are supposed to know best how and what Jesus was, do not confirm that dogma. It is a later addition to be handled sceptically, a belief that looked very different in the fourth century than it did in the first. -- Ehrman shows how an apocalyptic prophet from rural Galilee was crucified for crimes against the state, and afterwards was thought to be equal with God the Creator. Ehrman sketches how some of Jesus’s followers in time came to think that this Jewish prophet from Galilee was God. But what Jesus and his contemporaries meant by terms like "son of God", is not what later dogmas transformed the Jewish expression to, namely that Jesus was and is God. "Son of God" was not given a literal meaning. "Son of the Devil" meant just devilish too. So should we go with later God-dogmas or stick to the early terms and what they represented in their common contexts? Simply put, did dogmatists know better than Jesus, all his disciples and their Ghost?

⸻. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. ⍽▢⍽ Ehrman sorts historical evidence from the New Testament and the more recently discovered Gospels of Thomas and Peter and shows that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, that is, his main message was that the end of history was near, that God would shortly intervene to overthrow evil and establish his rule on earth, and that Jesus and his disciples all believed these end time events would happen in their lifetimes. Many academics agree that Jesus was one of many Jewish apocalyptic prophets, so what Dr Ehrman's shows is nothing original, and does not lack backup. Ehrman also analyses New Testament passages such as Jesus' supposed birth in Bethlehem of a virgin and finds them not historically credible. Now, are you awfully tired of Christian organisations that continue to preach that the end is coming? Are you trapped in the chimera of hard line Christian suggestions and inconsistencies? It may take time to wake up to deal full well with the figtree curser and false prophet Jesus who said his teachings are for Jews only (Matthew 5:1-10; 15:24) . . . Well, a prophet that foretells something that does not happen, is termed a false prophet and not to be feared, according to the Old Testament. In fact, the Law of Moses says he should be put to death for his false prophesying:

A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say . . . must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Those tough biddings for Jews only (Matthew 15:24) are parts of a Law that Jesus vouched for totally (Matthew 5:19-20).

⸻. Jesus, Interrrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). New York: HarperCollins, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ The Bible expert tells how books in the Bible were forged by later authors, and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus. Bible scholars know much about it, but lay persons may know only little. Ehrman wants readers to understand the origins of the dogma-founded Christian faith, and offers this scholarly, considerate review of how the Christian Bible was put together centuries after Jesus was buried.

⸻. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ Here is an anthology of readable translations of many non-canonical, formerly lost or neglected writings from the first centuries CE. The book is a companion volume to Lost Christianities (next entry). Included are Gospels supposedly authored by the apostle Philip, James the brother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen, and many others. The anthology includes fifteen gospels, five non-canonical Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles, a number of Apocalypses and Secret Books, and several Canon lists. Ehrman has included a general introduction, plus brief introductions to each piece. The book shows the range of beliefs that battled each other in the first centuries of the current era.

⸻. The Lost Gospel of Judas Icariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. ⍽▢⍽ An account of the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, where and how this ancient papyrus document was discovered, and how it came to be restored and translated. Ehrman also gives a complete account of what the book teaches and shows how it relates to other Gospel texts, including the Gnostic texts of early Christianity. The Gospel of Judas presents a different view of Jesus, his disciples, and the one who allegedly betrayed him.

⸻. Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make it into the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ The early Christian Church was a battleground of contending belief claims. Some groups claimed that there was not one God but more; some believed that the world had not been created by God; and certain held that Jesus was human but not divine. Ehrman offers a look at these early forms of Christianity, so marked by lack of unity and concord and also lacking the Spirit of Truth that manifested in domonant doings and writings and strivings for earthly power. It time, some early beliefs were suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. But recent discoveries of early texts reveal a religious diversity that underscores how the church history has been written by so-called winners. Ehrman loks into forged gospels supposedly written by Simon Peter, Jesus's closest disciple, and Judas Thomas, Jesus's alleged twin brother, and also beliefs of the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various "Gnostic" groups. There were many of them. Eventually the battles for texts and views led to that a selection of texts were called representational, or canonical, and a set of standardised Christian beliefs led to dogmatic articles of a faith that was in part far removed from early evidence in the three first gospels, where Jesus is presented as a healer and prophet, apocalyptic in vain, and further. An "orthodox" form of Christianity succeeded in branding the other groups as heretic and got rid of them - by politics, power, but not tact.

⸻. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ⍽▢⍽ Ehrman outlines the development of New Testament manuscripts and how manuscript errors occur in the New Testament. He shows how various early scribes altered the New Testament texts in order to deemphasize the role of women in the early church, to unify and harmonise the different portrayals of Jesus in the four gospels, and to oppose certain heresies.
    Ehrman highlights the diversity of views in the New Testament, that the New Testament contains forged books, "forgeware", written in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later, and how Christian doctrines - such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the Trinity - were invented later. Were late inventions good and correct inventions?
    The New Testament is a result of antiquity's ecclesiastical politics, incompetent scribes and difficulties of rendering divergent strains of local, oral traditions into a cogent, unified text. These matters are largely unknown to common people.
    Mistakes and forgeries (intentional changes) abound in earlier, hand-copied manuscript versions of the New Testament. Many widely held beliefs about the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the divine origins of the Bible itself are results of these manipulative adaptations or changes. The well informed Bart Ehrman offers good looks into the field of textual criticism and brings evidence of how, where and why certain changes were made in the earliest surviving manuscripts. Only certain versions of the them were included in the Bible. By comparing divergent texts, Ehrman discounts that the surviving manuscripts are authentic, since they have been altered. There are excellent reasons to acknowledge what texts are manipulated, and point out the faith they have given rise to. Newer translations like NIV have margin notes and some variant readings noted very clearly in just such areas that Ehrman focuses on within his book. This is to say that a lot of Christians have means to go to notable Bible translation (like NIV and NASB) and get into such issues. But regrettably, there are many Christians who who shy away from honest appraisal of Bible segments. They could fare better.

⸻. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ Ehrman approaches the New Testament from a historical and comparative perspective, stressing the variety of the the earliest Christian writings. In this study, Ehrman focuses on the milieux of early Judaism and its surrounding and lording Greco-Roman culture. He also discusses other Christian writings from the times when the New Testament was formed, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the letters of Ignatius. The book comes with a glossary of terms, chapter summaries and outlines, bibliographies, topic boxes with themes like "The laughing Jesus", etc.

⸻. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. ⍽▢⍽ Ehrman examines how early struggles between Christian "heresy" and "orthodoxy" affected the transmitted variants of documents, and goes into "Proto-orthodox Christianity". His book of textual criticism, systematically organised, underpins how victors write and reproduce their versions against the diversity found. Ehrman examines how early struggles between split Christian groups affected many early documents in an age when scribes could transform the documents they reproduced, either wilfully or by random errors. One group saw that its hegemony was served by selecting and modifying its scriptures to further an interpretations of Jesus, and corrupted (read: modified its own platform texts. Four positions were denounced as heretical.

  • Jesus was 'adopted' by God to carry out one of his plans. So when Jesus is declared 'Son of God' at his baptism - it just meant he had a close relationship to God.
  • Another view was that Jesus was a man and the Christ was a divine spirit that entered and empowered him and then left him on the cross.
  • Another view was that Jesus only appeared to have a real, fleshly human body, but being God, really did not.
  • There was also a belief that the trinity is false, that there is only one God.

The ancient views gave rise to modified versions of texts. Ehrman thinks some have made it into the Christian canon too, to cause further problems, for example pertaining to the Trinity. Ehrman discussed whether Jesus was the adopted Son of God, a very righteous man or the pre-existent image of God. The food for thought may stimulate a casual reader.
    Ehrman also shows how beliefs in an imminent apocalypse are recorded in the earliest Christian documents and in Jesus' preaching in the earliest Christian gospels, namely Mark and Matthew. These sources indicate that Jesus believed the son of man would soon arrive, all mighty nations would fall and God's kingdom would be established on earth. Jesus may have believed he was to be the son of man, or else a gospel writer may have put those words and that idea in Jesus' mouth, says Ehrman. Be that as it may for now, the early Christians believed Jesus to be the returning "son of man", barnasha, in Aramaic, whatever they meant by that. Interpretations are multifarious. George Lamsa lists four meanings in his translation of The New Testament (1968:xxiv) for example.

⸻. Studies in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Leiden: Brill, 2006. ⍽▢⍽ Here are Ehrman contributions to the textual criticism of the New Testamentv - fifteen articles and six lectures. The book may serve as a companion volume to Ehrman's study, "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effects of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament" (Oxford, 1993) and the volume he co-edited with Michael Holmes, "The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the" Status Quaestiones (Eerdmans, 1995)."

⸻, ed, tr. The Apostolic Fathers. Vol. 1 and 2. London: Harvard University Press, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ Here is Christian thought after the New Testament was more or less settled on. Here are bishop letters (epistles) and other documents of early Christians heading for wild-beast arenas and so on. There are different religious outlooks, including one on repentance.

Ehrman, Bart D., and Michael W. Holmes, eds. The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ This compilation from 1995, originally, contains twenty-two journal articles on issues that relate to New Testament textual criticism. Each essay is written by an internationally recognised scholar.

Ehrman, Bart D., and Zlatko Plese. Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ The book is a rare resource - a compilation of ancient texts of early Christianity. It contains original language editions of all the texts (Greek, Latin, Coptic); clear, new English translations, cross-references and notes, besides introductions to the texts - over 40 ancient gospel texts and textual fragments that did not make it to the New Testament. Here are gospels describing Jesus's infancy, ministry, Passion, and resurrection, as well as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The book may be fit for students of religious history, and antiquity's Christian faith. Recommended.

Hill, Charles E., and Michael J. Kruger, eds. The Early Text of the New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ Like Dr Geza Vermes in his The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (2005), the authors seek to get to the most primitive texts of the New Testament as recognised today. What changes did scribes make to the text? What is the quality of today's available text? The authors go into textual evidence for all the sections of the New Testament. They also examine the evidence from the earliest translations of New Testament writings and the citations or allusions to New Testament texts in other early Christian writers.

Lamsa, George, tr. The New Testament. Philadelphia: Holman Bible Publishers, 1968. A later edition is online. The author claims that Aramaic holds to key to various phrases and expressions in the canonical gospels, and tries to explain many idioms, metaphors, and figures of speech in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John through that link. Be that as it may, Dr Lamsa's translation is not included among the most reliable English Bible translations today. They include the New International Version (NIV), Today’s New International Version (TNIV). Among more literal translations the English Standard Version (ESV) and The New American Standard Version (NASV) are backed up. George Lamsa's claim that Aramaic was the original language of the New Testament is not supported by most scholars, neither of the Peshitta (Aramaic) nor the Greek New Testament. Lamsa could still have interesting things to say. For example, the four different meanings he give to "son of man", barnasha, tie in with some gospel uses of the term, as in "lift up the son of man (man of habits)".

Metzger, Bruce M., and Bart D. Ehrman. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Online at archive.org. ⍽▢⍽ A comprehensive survey of problems in textual criticism related to the New Testament, designed for bible students, with account of several schools of textual methodology. For students it is adressed to, it is a well done and fit book with much detail. Greek words go untranslated in it.

Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2004. ⍽▢⍽ A renowned biblical scholar examines all the sayings attributed to Jesus to find true teachings, if possible, of the healer and false prophet Jesus who lived and taught in Palestine some 2000 years ago. He prophesied the end of the world during the lifetime of his disciples, but it did not come, and that makes him a false prophet according to the Old Testament. We cannot be wholly confident that the teachings put in his mouth are correctly told, for the gospels differ too much in many places. There are obvious additions and forgeries in the four canonical gospels, not to speak of the score of other gospels that were produced in the non-unified early church, where a spirit of truth and concorn was missing. Dr Vermes has sought to scrutinise all the sayings in the canonical gospels to see if he could detect the most like original teachings, or the oldest teachings. He ended up with no firm ground, nothing that was undisputably authentic among the later retellings and versions that were edited and included in the Bible. The great service of his work is his scraping aside additions of centuries to come as close as could be to the likely teachings.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

WP: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Yampolsky, Philip, tr. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. The Text of the Tun-Huang Manuscript. New York: Columbia University, 1967.

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